Thursday, October 30, 2014

Holding Up the Hate Crimes Bill

Now that same sex marriage is legal in Pennsylvania, it is time to extend further rights to all citizens.  Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law does not includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  In 2013 it was one of only 15 states that did not.  Two bills that change this law, HB177 and SB42, have been sitting in committee for over a year.   HB 177 also adds ancestry and physical or mental disabilities to the law. 

The House bill was voted out of committee in early October, after sitting in the committee for months.  The Senate bill in the Senate Judiciary  Committee.  On December 3, 2013, the Harrisburg Patriot News asked the committee chairs (Jim Marsico and Stewart Greenleaf) when there would be action the bills.  Neither responded.  Greenleaf has said he has no intention of bringing the bill up for a vote.   This past Monday Greenleaf’s Democratic opponent, Ruth Damsker, delivered 80,000 signature on a petition calling for a vote on this measure.

Another House bill, HB300, would add gender orientation or identity to the state’s human relations bill; it also adds ancestry and physical or mental disabilities.  It also is sitting in committee; in this case the House State Government committee.

Text and status of bills can be found at


DeMarco, Emily, “PA’s hate-crime law still leaves many groups out,” Patriot-News, 12/03/2103

Newall, Mike, “Growing calls for stronger Pa. hate-crime laws,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/20/2014
Damsker campaign press release

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